“A Day in the Life” with filmmakers Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis

Right here in our own backyard of Calgary unfolds the meticulous work crafted by the powerhouse animation duo of Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis.

These artists have a rare ability to see and create the sublime. The sublime! As in outstanding, elevated, sometimes overwhelming. And here they lead their exuberant lives and toil in a pretty (but not showy) house on a cute street in Inglewood, creating works of art that attract the world’s attention.

Their films have been nominated for an Oscar several times and have earned more than 30 international awards, including the Palme d’Or at Cannes, a Genie Award and the Grand Prix at not one but three of the world’s most esteemed international animation festivals. They create illustrated works, projects for theatre, and advertisements, including one nominated for an Emmy. They won an award in Los Angeles usually handed out to people whose names you read on marquees.

They are incredible friends and quiet community builders. They are the geniuses behind Inglewood’s Bleak Midwinter Film Festival, the organizers of a women’s outdoor shinny group, dinner-party aficionados, animal lovers, protectors of the downtrodden and purveyors of humour that sometimes goes too far. They are perfectly impossible to capture in words – which makes perfect sense, since that is the essence of the sublime.

-Written by Mary Anne Moser, CEO at the Calgary Science Centre, Telus Spark, and co-founder of Beakerhead

Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis
This is a portion of our studio wall, which is a constant work in progress. We like to gather images – we snap up anything that catches our eye and hope the goodness will burrow its way into our own work. The images shift with our interests, and our favourites provide sustained inspiration
Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis
We have two cats and a dog who help us maintain a degree of mayhem that would otherwise be impossible
We used to make our films with real paint on real paper, shot on 35-mm film. Now we work on computer drawing tablets and employ all sorts of software. Here is a frame from our latest movie, The Flying Sailor, painted in Photoshop
It’s good to look up from the screen once in a while, and nothing makes it more worthwhile than catching a glimpse of our favourite red squirrel in the backyard. We named him Don after our pal Don McWilliams, who is also a squirrel (he scolds anyone he thinks is misguided and squirrels away all manner of things). He’s also a marvellous documentary filmmaker with the National Film Board of Canada, based in Montreal
Our favourite breakfast is a Dutch Baby, a kind of pancake made with flour, milk and a lot of eggs. (No babies were harmed in the making of this meal.) It’s a Julie Van Rosendaal recipe and, if done just right, the architecture is quite impressive
Much of The Flying Sailor was made during the pandemic and so, like many, we spent a lot of time on Slack and Zoom. Here we are talking music tracks with our friend and sound designer Luigi Allemano. He’s based in Montreal but hails from Edmonton
Last winter we got ourselves a grow light and started seedlings in the basement in February. We found this to be incredibly therapeutic, and it lifted our spirits through the late-winter months when it should be spring – but isn’t. The garden is supervised by Igor Stravinsky (painted by Amanda)
Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis
Our dog Penny gets two good walks a day, and she loves nothing more than a never-ending game of Frisbee. We’re very lucky to live close to the Bow River, the pathways and plenty of beautiful green space (or white, depending on the season)
Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis
And here we are enjoying a brisk -27°C walk!


Which ’hood are you in?

We’ve lived in Inglewood for 20 years. A few years ago it was named Canada’s Best Neighbourhood. It lives up to the hype.

What do you do?

We direct and animate short films, commercials and assorted commissioned projects. We also do the occasional illustration and have had the great pleasure of creating projections for the Alberta Ballet.

What are you currently working on?

We’re ruminating about our next idea while we do lots of promotional work for The Flying Sailor. It takes a long time to make a short animated film, so we choose our projects very carefully.

Where can we find your work? 

Our films can be seen at NFB.ca, and a wider range of our work can be found on our website.



About Demian Vernieri 572 Articles
Demian is an Argentinian retired musician, avid gamer and editor for the Montréal Guardian, Toronto Guardian, Calgary Guardian and Vancouver Guardian websites.